President’s Message: Ask Not What WDC Can Do For You, Ask What You Can Do for WDC!

WDC Journal Edition: Winter 2017
By: Fred Strampe, President, Wisconsin Defense Counsel

As I begin my term as WDC President I want to share why I spend so much time and effort supporting the Wisconsin Defense Counsel. I support WDC because it benefits me personally and professionally. I am a better advocate because of the presentations I’ve given at WDC conferences. I understand the legislative process in Wisconsin better because I have served on the WDC Legislative and Executive Committees. I have a better understanding of insurance company internal operations because of the people I have met through the WDC. I was only able to glean these benefits because I chose to participate in WDC.

Not everyone wishes to have a position on the WDC Board. However, everyone who’s taken the time to read this article wants to improve themselves professionally and is interested in WDC. Fortunately, the opportunities to contribute to WDC and maximize the benefits from your WDC membership are always growing.

I want to take a few minutes to explain the many opportunities to become involved. The highlight of the WDC year remains our three conferences. The educational benefits from WDC are further enhanced in the Wisconsin Civil Trial Journal that is published three times a year. Additionally, the WDC committee structure has been re-energized and all committee chairs are seeking members and contributors. Finally, the WDC website has been updated and revitalized. All of these activities need member support in order to continue the recent growth and ensure the vitality of our organization.

WDC Conferences
Attendance at the WDC conferences remains the easiest way to contribute to the organization and to benefit from your WDC membership. The programming is consistently excellent. WDC is fortunate to have a large assortment of skilled presenters who are willing to commit their time and talents to make our educational programming exceptional.

Presentations are only part of the benefit associated with the WDC conferences. The opportunity to interact with claim professionals, clients, and peer attorneys is important. The chance to make connections, ask questions, and exchange information with talented professionals from all over the State is invaluable. At the next WDC conference, sit next to someone you do not know, or have a drink at the reception with someone from a different part of the State. These personal connections are easily made at WDC conferences and greatly enhance the benefits of WDC membership.

The Wisconsin Civil Trial Journal is published three times per year and is always looking for interesting and informative articles to share with our members. Submitting an article is an excellent way to make new connections and a significant contribution to WDC. Publishing an article is not nearly as complicated as it sounds. The next time you encounter an interesting legal issue or a unique situation, think of converting your experiences into an article. The best articles are based on factual situations and actual cases. Converting case briefing or a research memo into a Journal article can often be done simply and efficiently. The benefits are significant: hundreds of WDC members gain insight into the issue you’ve dealt with and you receive state-wide recognition as an expert on the subject.

WDC Committees
The WDC committee structure is in the midst of a great renaissance. Our substantive law committees are having meetings throughout the State. The Employment Law Committee has held two meetings around the State this fall. The attendance was “standing room only” at the Insurance Law Committee meeting as part of our annual conference. The Young Lawyers Committee had a session with Judge Griesbach in Green Bay this summer. Additionally, the Women In Law Committee has had several meetings this summer.

All of these committees need, and welcome, your support. Please consider not just joining a committee, but becoming an active participant of the committee or committees that interest you most. The committees are an excellent way to develop relationships with attorneys who have similar professional interests. I encourage everyone to spend a few hours and attend a committee meeting. This is an excellent way to contribute to WDC while expanding your professional knowledge and professional connections.

The WDC Website
Chris Bandt and his committee have done an excellent job of revitalizing and rejuvenating the WDC website. If you haven’t visited our new website and downloaded the new apps, you should. With the new look we are continuing to expand the resources available on the website. The information shared regarding expert witnesses remains one of our most popular and effective tools. If you need information regarding an expert, please use the WDC website to solicit additional information. Even more importantly, if you see an email from a WDC member with questions regarding an expert you know, please respond and share the information you have. You never know when you will be the attorney asking for information. This unique feature from WDC is only effective if people are willing to share their knowledge. I urge you to spend a few minutes responding to an email the next time you have helpful information.

WDC is also working on upgrading the website with a circuit court decision database. This searchable database will contain decisions from circuit court judges from the entire State. Our hope is that these decisions will provide WDC members with additional legal resources regarding important issues. They also provide some insight into the various Circuit Court Judges. Once again, the effectiveness of this system will depend on the generosity of WDC members. The more circuit court decisions that are contributed by members, the more effective the database will be. As you receive emails regarding this new program, please submit circuit court decisions you have or receive. Almost all of us have a file of circuit court decisions that we refer to on specific issues. If each attorney member provides two or three decisions for this database, we will have unique and helpful research tool available only to WDC members.

WDC needs its members to contribute in a variety of ways to make the organization strong and effective. As a WDC member, the benefits you receive from our organization are connected to the effort you put into the organization. Join a committee, write an article, make a presentation…the opportunities are boundless. Whatever opportunity you choose will make you a better lawyer and WDC a better organization. Please consider committing your time and talents to WDC so you can receive the same benefits I have.

Author Biography:
Frederick Strampe grew up in Wausau, Wisconsin. He graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1990 and served as an infantry officer in Germany. He returned to Wisconsin and received his law degree from the University of Wisconsin in 1997.

Mr. Strampe specializes in civil litigation at Borgelt, Powell, Peterson & Frauen, S.C. He is the President of the Wisconsin Defense Counsel. Mr. Strampe has been recognized as a Wisconsin "Super Lawyer," and is a member of the America Board of Trial Advocates, ABOTA. He litigates high exposure cases, including claims involving deaths, severe permanent injuries, and significant economic damages.